Cliff May

William Graham, who heads a congressionally appointed commission on the EMP threat, recently wrote that an enemy utilizing this strategy would eliminate "most of the operational hazards of smuggling a nuclear weapon into a U.S. port or city. Moreover, it offers less opportunity for detection, less risk of weapon seizure, less risk of crewmember defection, greater difficulty for the United States in conducting forensic analysis to determine who sponsored the attack, less certainty of prompt retaliation and greater long-term, potentially catastrophic consequences for the nation."

Despite all this, a group of left-leaning American religious leaders this week invited Ahmadinejad to dinner. The Mennonite Central Committee, the World Council of Churches, and the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker group, billed the event as a "dialogue."

History provides a parallel: In the 1930s, many people in America and Europe believed it was not Adolf Hitler, but Winston Churchill, who was the "war monger." Germany, they believed, had "legitimate grievances," for example, the oppression of the German-speaking minority in Czechoslovakia. Such issues, they insisted, could be settled through dialogue and appeasement - the term had not yet become tainted.

On this basis, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain went to Munich to negotiate. In the end, he sold out Czechoslovakia but, he convinced himself, he prevented Europe from plunging into war. It soon became apparent how wrong he was. Hitler had found his weakness provocative - as tyrants always will. "Our enemies are little worms," Hitler would later say. "I saw them at Munich."

As late as November 1941, with much of Europe under the Nazi jackboot, Charles Clayton Morrison, editor of the magazine, Christian Century, still worried more about "a coming Anglo-American world hegemony" than a Nazi triumph. Morrison said Britain's struggle against Hitler should be seen as "a war for imperialism"-- and rejected. After all, he added, the American people were "not in a crusading mood." Such arguments were finally refuted a month later - after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

There was a time when one could not conceive a world without with the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, the Ottoman Empire, Constantinople. There was a time when the World Trade Towers looked indestructible. There was a time when Wall Street investment banks seemed as sturdy as mountains.

But we live in an uncertain and perilous world - the more so when leaders lack the courage to stand up to despots and sheepishly break bread with them instead.


Cliff May

Clifford D. May is the President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.